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Crimson Crux

Pseudo-techblog where the Corsarius gets serious. Visit blog.corsarius.net for his alter ego.

Game Review: Barbarian Invasion

Friday, February 03, 2006 at 11:50 PM
Rome Total War Barbarian Expansion Logo


Rome: Total War Barbarian Invasion is the fitting follow-up to one of the best games of all time.

The original game found you building the Roman Empire; now, you have the chance of destroying it! Lead barbarian hordes to the gates of Rome and Constantinople, sacking cities along the way and plundering to your heart’s empty content. Or become the protector of the civilized world, and take the helm of either the Western or Eastern Roman Empires.

Barbarian Invasion adds 10 new factions (such as the Huns, Goths, and Celts), 100 new units, and the concept of hordes -- factions plundering the world in search for new homelands. Night battles and new unit capabilities (such as swimming) have been introduced. Also, religion now plays a vital role in your empire -- pledge loyalty to the tenets of Christianity, Zoroastrianism, or Paganism.

Being an expansion pack, Barbarian Invasion is basically the same dish served with added spice. Result: a delicious meal which leaves you hungry for more. For people who haven’t tried the original Rome, you’ll need to get acquainted with two gameplay screens, the campaign map and battlefield.

The Campaign Map

Let it be said that it was Rome's campaign map which made me buy the game.

I first noticed the original Rome being played on a net café, with the campaign map onscreen, and I was instantly enamored. I found out about the impressive battlefield maps only later, when I took the game home.

Rome Total War Barbarian Expansion Map


Rome's campaign map was a piece of art, with the terrain beautifully rendered and the world simply bustling with activity. Trade routes were animated with caravans and ships, wonders of the world dotted the map, and a Sicilian volcano eruption was even put in, adding panache to the game.

Barbarian Invasion
continues the tradition and improves upon it. The expansion's campaign map now scrolls and zooms more smoothly, erasing one of my pet peeves in the original.

The game revolves around the campaign map, and you'll spend a lot of time here improving your cities, spying on your rivals, assassinating their generals, and ordering your armies around. Think of basic turn-based strategy game stuff.

One can actually finish Barbarian Expansion through the campaign map only, but then you'd be missing half the fun by not commanding your armies on the battlefield.

The Battlefield

My jaw dropped when I played my first Rome battle.

Watched the blockbuster movie Gladiator? Felt the thrill (or bloodlust) when watching the battle between Maximus' legions and the barbarian Gauls? If yes, then there's a Rome gamer tucked within you.

Rome Total War Barbarian Expansion Saxon

The whole Total War franchise is famed for its battles, played out in real-time with thousands of 3D warriors battling for supremacy. It goes without saying that you need a good-performance gaming machine, what with added effects such as weather and sandstorms.

Fight the battle as Attila, Hannibal, and the Caesars would've fought it. Be advised -- the battle can be overwhelming at times. A good scene from a Barbarian Invasion battle would be like this: fireballs streaking down from the skies crash down to your city, incinerating your legions, while the Huns scale your walls with siege towers, impervious to fiery arrows let loose by your archers.

[Continued in Part Two]

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